It was a tale of two seasons in 2012-13 for the Carolina Hurricanes.
It opened strong, with Carolina starting 8-4-1 and bolting to the top of the Southeast Division on Feb. 24.
The Hurricanes were in first place when they arrived for a game against the Florida Panthers on March 3. Carolina led 3-0 8:56 into the second period, when goaltender Cam Ward left with a lower-body injury that later was diagnosed as a third-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Ward didn't need surgery, but with a recovery time expected to be 6-8 weeks, his regular season was over.
In theory, the Hurricanes' season also ended that night. They held on for a 3-2 victory against the Panthers, but won seven times the rest of the season, going 7-17-3 to finish 13th in the Eastern Conference, 15 points behind the Washington Capitals in the division.
"If you look at our season, it was almost like Jekyll and Hyde," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller told NHL.com. "A lot of it had to do around the time Cam got injured. Up until then, we were leading our division. … All our stats were in our favor as far as plus/minus [scoring] differential, scoring more goals than we were giving up. We cut down on our goals-against from a year ago. I think we were 8-2 the last 10 games before Cam got hurt. We were just flying along great. Unfortunately, the injury happened and we were .500 for a few games and then after that we just couldn't keep the goals down and it affected our production in the second half."